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WEF 2022: What are the biggest issues on agenda at Davos?

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WEF 2022: What are the biggest issues on agenda at Davos?

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A pandemic that continues to claim lives and disrupt daily existence, a devastating war being waged in Ukraine with dire implications for the rest of the world, and a UN climate report warning that we’re on a “fast track” to disaster, to name just a few.

WEF 2022: What are the biggest issues on agenda at Davos?
The World Economic Forum (WEF) will hold its Annual Meeting 2022 in the Swiss ski resort town of Davos from May 22-26 as the first global in-person leadership event since the start of the pandemic.
The theme of the WEF Annual Meeting 2022 will be "Working Together, Restoring Trust", said the Geneva-based organisation. The meeting convenes at a strategic point where public figures and global leaders will meet in person to reconnect, exchange insights, gain fresh perspectives and advance solutions.
The issues to be discussed include government policies and business strategies against a backdrop of the global pandemic, and the war in Ukraine and geo-economic challenges.
Another issue to be discussed at Davos 2022 is that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has also stirred concerns about the impacts on progress made to date combating climate change and shifting away from fossil fuels.
A pandemic that continues to claim lives and disrupt daily existence, a devastating war being waged in Ukraine with dire implications for the rest of the world, and a UN climate report warning that we’re on a “fast track” to disaster, to name just a few.
Here are five experts who highlight what they see as the biggest issues currently demanding the world's attention at Davos 2022.
Russia's war in Ukraine
Historian Adam Tooze, director of the European Institute at Columbia University, addressed the severity of sanctions now being directed at Russia following its invasion of Ukraine, and made a comparison with those previously applied to Iran — which have been devastating for that country’s economy.
He said, "The single most important piece of advice a historian can give in this current moment is we really actually need to understand what we’ve embarked on… when somebody says ‘Oh, we’re going to do Iran-style sanctions here,’ you have to say, ‘You understand the difference between Iran and Russia, don’t you? Iranians don’t have nuclear weapons."
Combatting climate change
Another issue to be discussed at Davos 2022 is that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has also stirred concern about the impacts on progress made to date combatting climate change and shifting away from fossil fuels.
Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation, responded to the notion that maintaining economic stability and employment levels may now require some easing of climate efforts.
"We have to go faster, not slower. I mean, there are no jobs on a dead planet. So if we’re serious about the only home we know, and stabilizing the planet, then you can only deal with this convergence of crisis areas in an integrated way."
"Those fossil fuel companies, for example, particularly gas, who’ve argued that you have to slow it down, that they’re vital to the economy. Well, let’s go faster. Let’s invest in renewables more deeply, more quickly, let’s actually look at how you create decent work in those industries," he said.
Biodiversity
As efforts are made to stay focused on climate change, some experts are advocating for a similarly-coordinated, global push to preserve biodiversity – particularly at a time of increasingly irreversible loss of ecosystems.
Marco Lambertini, Director General of WWF International, said the way forward is to make organizations answerable for declining biodiversity – and to establish a global goal to halt and reverse nature loss.
"Accountability that today doesn’t exist on nature, it exists on climate… you can tell today very easily if a company is in line with net zero or not. On nature, everybody says and does what they can, but nobody knows, nobody can say, ‘this is not enough.’ In fact we know it’s not enough, because nature continues to decline, but there’s no accountability in the system. So, we need a global goal for nature.”
Lingering threat of COVID-19
Ilona Szabó, co-founder and president of the Rio de Janeiro-headquartered Igarapé Institute, tackled the tricky question for Davos 2022 of how to continue keeping people safe as the health crisis lingers – while also enabling them to return to a kind of normal.
It may be tempting to dismiss the threat still posed by COVID-19 for political gain, she said, but that would be reckless.
"Governments have the responsibility to do the right thing, even if it’s hard. This cannot be disputed. We understand that COVID-19 and its variants are not finished with us, but policy-makers in some parts of the world and citizens are finished with the virus.
We are at a very challenging moment… the pandemic is continuing to generate massive political, social, and economic effects. Not least disrupting global supply chains. But we expect from leaders that they do the right thing, even if it costs mandates, even if it costs (them) reelection," Szabó said.
Shifting geopolitical influence
Shifts in economic and geopolitical influence should also be in focus, according to Kishore Mahbubani.
The author, former UN Security Council President, and Distinguished Fellow at the National University of Singapore’s Asia Research Institute predicts an “an Asian 21st century." He referred to International Monetary Fund bylaws that call for the institution’s head office to be located in the largest member economy – something current global powers may one day have difficulty digesting.
"In nominal market terms, the United States is still 1.5 times larger than China, but within ten years there’s a very good possibility, indeed probably a very good probability, that China will become the number one market in nominal market terms… and if you can imagine the psychological shock in Washington, D.C. of having to deal with the IMF leaving Washington, D.C. to go to Beijing, then I think you’ll begin to understand how difficult it will be to adjust to a completely different world."
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